Death and Taxes.
So broadly, Isaac, we’re in agreement?
I think I’d actually be inclined to go a little further with this being or not being – perhaps in the sense of where photography might be a fresh art rather than just a slavish copying of already known and developed genres of this – whatever this/it, is.
At the risk of offending many, which I really don’t want to do, I feel that photography owes it to itself to move in different directions and not compete with the established orders of paint, pencil and paper marking in whatever form.
Looking at the huge two-way influences of the magazine and newspaper worlds upon the genre (photography) I think it would make a sort of sense to think that maybe, just maybe, photography might be better served aiming for those types of works/representations that the older media can’t do. An interesting illustration of this idea can be seen happening on the front pages of this very site: LuLa.
If you look carefully at the images that Michael posts that are uniquely powerful, then I feel they are all about the human condition – his form of ‘street’ which isn’t simply about the catching of people doing something, but the catching of shapes; graphics, in other words. His landscape stuff is, of course, very accomplished, but then so is that of innumerable other photographers. Something uniquely photographic goes beyond that – into realms that demand speed, acute observational skills and not a little nerve. Mood, action and even the presentation of ‘found’ art in the sense of graffiti and distressed artworks used for entirely other purposes than being photographed; nothing new there, of course, but things that are found all around us that pretty much preclude the setting up of easel and bottles of turps!
Perhaps it’s cultural exposure and different backgrounds, but I still can’t see photography of pretty views making it onto walls and being considered art because it hangs on those walls. I do see the validity of strong black/white images of people as decoration for city dwellings – statements, if you like, of the owner’s own sensibilities and beliefs; maybe especially so in the case of images derived from recognizable advertising campaigns. I’ve noted some very cool-looking rooms decorated with Sarah Moon shots from the early 70s… that kind of thing still looks contemporary, indicates a sense of the ethos and owes not a lot to the world of other arts. I also think that black/white images of industrial sites of long ago can pass as good photographic decoration. That doesn’t at all impact on the validity of paintings as décor – in most cases I think them much superior choices. But, I do believe that using photographs as decoration is very location dependent. I don’t, for example, think the Moons would look right in a farm. Nor, for that matter, the industrial offerings.
Do you notice how this topic (within this post) constantly finds itself in the process of conflating art and decoration? Perhaps that’s quite important, beyond simply being my personal take; I always thought photography was best housed within books, but that seems to be a rare event these days, unless one is willing to include porn and the inevitable ‘Hidden Gems Of…’ (supply the name of your own county, state or country) type of publication.
Maybe. Maybe it doesn’t matter at all, and maybe it’s all rubbish anyway.